Mexico: violence in Tabasco vote

On Oct. 20 Raul Ojeda Zubieta, center-left candidate for governor of the southern Mexican state of Tabasco, charged in a press conference that Andres Granier Melo, candidate for the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), had won in the Oct. 14 state election through the “manipulation and addition” of 89,689 votes. Demanding a recount, Ojeda said that in addition to buying votes and stuffing ballot boxes, the PRI had conspired with other parties, principally the center-right National Action Party (PAN), to shift votes from their candidates to Granier to give him his margin of victory. (La Jornada, Oct. 21)

Ojeda ran for the For the Good of All coalition, composed mostly of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the small leftist Workers Party (PT). Although the PRI has controlled Tabasco for decades, the race was watched closely because Tabasco is the home state of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the center-left coalition’s candidate for the July 2 presidential election. He lost narrowly to the PAN’s Felipe Calderon Hinojosa in the official count and has refused to accept the results. Lopez Obrador campaigned heavily for Ojeda, and the PRI considered Ojeda’s defeat a major defeat for Lopez Obrador.

The PRD charged that its members were repeatedly attacked by state police and hired thugs during the voting on Oct. 15. In Villahermosa, the state capital, a group of young men wearing green plastic arm bands surrounded a PRD senator, Rosalinda Lopez Hernandez, and other PRD members and yelled: “Out, Chilangos,” a slang term for Mexico City residents. A bus with state riot police and two patrol cars appeared immediately; the agents left the young men alone but beat up Lopez Hernandez and arrested 12 PRD members, including a member of the Mexico City Legislative Assembly. In a separate incident, a man tried to hit Monica Fernandez Balboa, a PRD federal deputy, as she was observing the election in her district; reporters and photographers intervened to stop the attack. In Tacotalpan municipality, some 40 PRI members illegally detained state assembly members Eddy Ortiz and Avelino Morua. At least 29 PRD members were arrested during the day, and nine were held captive at various times by people in civilian clothes. (LJ, Oct. 16)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 22

See our last posts on Mexico and the elections in Tabasco. See also our last post on the electoral dispute in neighboring Chiapas.

Note that Tabasco has been the site of previous electoral disputes, and is the only remaining Mexican state that still holds Zapatista political prisoners. (See also WW4 REPORT #s 42, 95). Local issues were highlighted in Tabasco when the Zapatista tour passed through the state last year.